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Family History Moments

Yesterday I had a real "family history moment."

During a casual conversation with my mother's parents at our family reunion, I learned that they both played the piano when they were younger. I had no idea about this part of my grandparents' lives. I can't say that I was shocked to learn this because my mother has always played and taught me to play when I was young. I now have my own baby grand and am trying to teach my kids.

My grandparents also told us about something they recently discovered about their childhoods. They learned that when they were ten years old they each performed at the same piano recital. They even shared the same piano teacher at one point. Seems they were destined for each other.

Music, and especially the piano, have always been a big part of my life. Now I know that it actually runs in our genes. Learning how it was a part of my grandparents' lives gives me a better sense of "me". A better sense of why I am the way I am. I guess that is what family history is all about.

And so for the next week I get to put my long-ago-ancestors on hold while I make some memories with my "living relatives."

What about you? I'd love to hear about your favorite family reunion story or a special "family history moment." Use the comments below to share your experience.


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Here's a Family History story I have experienced personally. I was raised in my grandparents' home in Lincolnshire, England, and am now 67 years old. As a child I often listened to their stories of when they were young. My grandfather, whose family name was "Sanderson", often spoke about someone called Sarah Foundation, who was a few years older than he was. He related how Sarah was found on a railway station by his parents. She was apparently abandoned by her parents when they could not be found Sarah was taken in and eventually adopted by my grandfather's family. I asked my grandfather about how she got her name "Foundation", and he said it was because they had "found" her. My grandfather was inclined to spin yarns, and I dismissed that as yet another one of them. But when about ten years ago I began to research our family history, I discovered his whole family in the British 1881 Census, and I was surprised to see Sarah Foundation listed as one of grandfather's siblings, but adopted. I have of course passed the story on to my own children as one of those fascinating little tidbits that make genealogy so addictive. Fact is so often so much stranger and more interesting than fiction, isn't it?

I have been researching family sinced my teen years. I was excited to learn after researching all possible linages on mother and father's side that they are in fact fifth cousins by way of two family ancestries. I also learned that mothers maternal grandparents and fathers maternal grandparents were cousins! This was amazing. Eventually I moved away from our home town and to a city seventy miles away. I met and married a wonderful lady, whose parents were also family researchers. One night while tying up some loose ends in my research I discovered a common ancestor between myself and my new mother-in-law... my wife and I are sixth cousins!

My mother lived alone for many years and on into her nineties. When my siblings and I visited her in Lubbock, Texas we would often find a friend from across the alley whom she had met at the dumpster one day. We knew this lady simply as Gennie. She was such a blessing looking after Mother and letting us know how she was and my oldest sister kept in touch with her even after Mother entered a nursing home and eventually died four months before her 100th birthday. One day when talking to my sister, she told me that Gennie had not answered her letters for almost a year, and since I had moved back to Lubbock I went by to see she and her husband. Gennie was in the last stages of Lou Gerihig's disease but still rational. To make conversation, I asked her husband what he did before retirement and he replied that he worked for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, so I asked if he knew Billy Shipman who was my second cousin. He replied that they worked together and said that Gennie was kin to him. It turned out that Gennie was the daughter of a man who's brother and sister had both married my first cousins. Mother and Gennie were friends for years and never knew that they were kin to the same people until I told Gennie just before she passed away. This became known because I ask a question to avoid akward moments in conversation.

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